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Integrative Reflexology

at Serenity Now Massage Therapy in Cornelius, NC

"The Premier Therapeutic Massage Studio of Lake Norman"

 

Reflexology is a therapeutic massage method that stimulates predefined pressure points on the feet and hands to bring the body into balance and promote well-being.  According to the philosophy of reflexology, all organs, glands and parts of the body have representing reflexes on the feet and hands.

Integrative Reflexology, an approach developed by Claire Marie Miller, incorporates four major traditions and approaches: zone theory, structural alignment theory, meridian theory, and proprioceptor theory. 

The Zone Theory was the precursor to modern Reflexology.  The basis of this theory can be traced back to European manuscripts that describe zones and reflex points. It has been developed more recently by the “mother of modern day reflexology”, Eunice Ingham.  In Zone Theory, the body is divided into 10 vertical zones. Each zone corresponds to fingers and toes all the way up to the top of the head. For example, if you are standing up with your hands on your thighs (palms facing down) the thumbs and great toe would be zone 1. On either side of the body, the index finger and second toe would be zone 2, etc. In reflexology theory, every organ, valve, muscle, etc. that lies within a zone can be accessed via a point or area on the feet or hands. For example, working between toes 2 and 3, or fingers 2 and 3, the eye point is found. These pathways between pressure points and other parts of the body are thought to be connected via the nervous system, as described above.

Claire Marie Miller developed Structural Alignment Theory after being inspired by the work of Ida Rolf who calls the feet the “Great Tattle Tellers.” To achieve correct body alignment, one must begin with the feet. The premise of this theory is that there are three arches which make up the structural alignment of the foot. Each arch correlates to a specific system within the body. The inner or medial arch correlates to the spine and is related to the structure of the body. The lateral arch is related to the function of the colon. The colon is often considered a place where emotions are processed and the mind is where the emotions originate. The transverse arch, relates to the diaphragm, and the ability to breathe.

Meridian Theory is an Asian approach to reflexology. A meridian is an invisible channel through which Chi (life force energy) flows through in a specific pattern. In the western approach to Asian medicine, we focus on fourteen meridians. Twelve of the meridians either begin or end on the hands and feet. The governing vessel meridian travels up the center of the spinal column, along the head to the front of the face. The conception vessel runs up the front of the body and meets the governing vessel between the nose and the top lip. Asian medicine is based on the belief that balance is the key to good health; that one should strive for balance in the seasons, element, and meridians. The famous yin/yang circle is a symbol that represents this balance.

The Proprioceptor Theory is based on the fact that there are approximately 100,000 – 200,000 nerve endings in each foot. There are more receptors (a type of nerve) in the hands and feet than anywhere else in the body. These receptors tell us where we are located in space. They send information up to the brain, and bring back the appropriate response. Throughout our life, our feet are exposed to and encounter different surfaces; some are harder and less varied than the other. Feet often become tired and numbed to nerve information. The reflexology treatment will break up, or break down (depending on the perspective) the accumulated crystals and tissue build-up around the nerve endings in our feet. When this happens, new information is sent to the brain and back. Because so many nerve endings are affected during a reflexology session, the brain experiences an endorphin response. This is incredibly helpful for people in chronic pain because these endorphins give organic and holistic pain relief. Most people become very relaxed, and even sleepy. 

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